Beethoven: Sparks of Joy – King Stephen Overture, Op. 117
In 1811, Beethoven was commissioned to provide music for two stage works written by the playwright August von Kotzebue. The occasion was the dedication of a new German-language theatre in Pest (part of today’s Budapest), built to alleviate the nationalist feelings incipient in Hungary and to celebrate the loyalty of Hungary to the Austrian monarch.
“King Stephen, or Hungary’s First Benefactor” relates events in the life of Hungary’s founder. Although the Overture remains popular today, the remaining nine musical numbers that Beethoven composed are rarely heard.
Here is the complete performance with full score, performed by the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. [Notes by Margaret Scialdone.]